June 21 – Queen Catherine of Aragon makes a speech and steals the show

On this day in Tudor history, 21st June 1529, ten days after her 20th wedding anniversary, Queen Catherine of Aragon appeared at the Legatine Court at Blackfriars and delivered an impassioned speech which stole the show.

This court was hearing the case for the annulment of Catherine’s marriage to the king, and Catherine was going to have her say!

She delivered the speech while kneeling at her husband’s feet, and she appealed directly to him. It was an incredible speech.

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One thought on “June 21 – Queen Catherine of Aragon makes a speech and steals the show”
  1. Katherine must have written out this speech beforehand and it does indeed sound like the speech of her life, it was impassioned heart felt and pleading, pleading to her husband as the head of justice within this realm, the company and the king himself were totally unprepared for this dramatic gesture of Katherines, she abruptly unseated herself walked straight across to where Henry was sitting, and kneeling at his feet implored him for all the love that had been between them, to give her justice, she asked him what had she done to offend him she mentioned their wedding night and Henry’s cheeks must have burned because everyone in the room heard her to, because she said she had been a true maid when they slept together, she mentioned her loyalty to him the children she had borne him and really, most listening to her, whether they spoke for the king or not, could not have failed to be moved by her, Henry must have hated every minute of it especially the last remark she made about his conscience, of course Katherine had done nothing to offend her husband, she was in fact the perfect wife in everything but the one thing that really mattered, she had failed to give him a son and wives had been discarded before, Henry’s desire to have a new wife to breed sons is perfectly understandable and many kings had sought annulments before, it was nothing new which the King of England was asking, and Henry saw his wife as being selfish and very obstinate for she was astounded when Henry told her of his wish to separate and the reasons for it, she declared their marriage was lawful, and she had her nephew Charles on her side whom the Pope did not wish to upset, so Katherine held all the cards, clever as she was she knew this court was biased towards the king and she appealed direct to Rome, she really treated it the king and the legates with the utmost contempt by walking out, but one can understand her hurt and her fear and anger, she had been queen for over twenty years now she must have felt she was about to be tossed aside like one of Henry’s fish bones at dinner, Cardinal Wolsley was perturbed as he knew there was nothing he could do, and Campeggio had travelled all the way from Italy which could not have been an easy journey as he was elderly and had gout, so the court collapsed and although Henry V111 made a perfectly reasonable speech himself he must have failed to convince many that his reasons were sincere for the desire to annul his marriage, many knew of Anne Boleyn and his lust for her, but the lack of a male heir was an issue and Henry was paranoid because he was the head of a new dynasty, his own father had had to deal with several pretenders coming out of the woodwork, and a rebellion not long after he took the throne, so from his point of view a son was needed to make his dynasty more secure, his crown had been won not handed down legitimately, so from Henry’s point of view it made good sense to get a new wife, all he had to show for twenty odd years of marriage was a daughter, a short thin and somewhat sickly child, though precocious she could not however defend his kingdom from foreign invasions and civil war, in fact she was to prove very able in doing so when she rallied the country on her behalf when Jane Grey was declared queen, but the king could not see into the future and all he feared was England vulnerable against her more wealthy foreign neighbours, if he died without a son to succeed him, this court were the king and queen appeared together was highly unusual and it left both Henry and Anne Boleyn despondent, the court then adjourned for the summer which delayed it even further, they could do nothing but rail against Katherine the Pope, the Emperor Charles and took their anger out on Cardinal Wolsey, the atmosphere in court that summer of 1529 must have simmered like the hot air.

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